Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Long-term EU-wide residency/work permits for Greece

Greek permitAdeia Diamonis or Residence Permit Sticker of Greece – May not be reused

A special five-year, long-term EU-wide residence/work permit applies to non-EU citizens who can prove they have been legally living and working in Greece for a minimum of five (5) years with a full residence/work permit.

Please take the time to read this article, which is unavailable anywhere else since March 2007 and updated with the latest information from official documentation and first-hand experience.

If you have not been working and living in Greece for five (5) years or you are the non-EU spouse/child of a Greek or EU citizen, or you’re looking for information on 10-year residence permits, stop now and read, “How Americans and other non-EU citizens can get a permit to move, live and work in Greece.”

The Ministry of Interior announced that a new Immigration Code had been drafted, which would grant EU-wide status to certain long-term residents and simplify bureaucracy, but nothing has been officially published and existing laws are still in effect.

*Article last updated on January 2, 2015. However, answers in ‘Comments’ reflect a specific case or whatever laws were in effect at the time. I am waiting for someone to complete the process to provide the latest details.

Image was intentionally Photoshopped to remove vital elements, protect privacy and help prevent forgery.

Warning

An INFOrmation guide and two lawyers plagiarized this post and falsely attributed the source as an official government website that contained no information on the subject, reusing first-hand details from my life and rewriting them as their own.

Be careful who you trust.

Basic requirements

This permit applies to non-EU citizens who are:

1. Over the age of 18

2. Not connected to a Greek or other EU national by marriage or blood

3. Living and working in Greece legally with an existing permit for five (5) years and an absence of:
a) no more than six (6) months continuously on one occasion;
and
b) less than 10 months total in five (5) years.

If you have been outside Greece for more than six (6) months on one occasion, then you are not considered ‘resident’ in Greece. If your absences in Greece prevent you from applying, you must delay your application until eligible.

*Immigrants in Greece for study or vocational training purposes, asylum seekers and refugees cannot apply for this permit.
**There is no such thing as a permanent residence visa. See “What’s the difference between a visa and a permit?

Where to apply

Local “dimos” (municipality offices), foreigners offices (grafeia allodapon), kentro exipiretisis allodapon (in Athens only from 8:00 to 20:00) or nomarxeia (prefecture offices) accept applications during certain hours, usually early in the morning starting at 7:30 a.m. There is no nationwide standard — some take appointments, some see a limited number of applicants per day, and some operate on a first-come, first-serve basis on specific days. In smaller towns and rural areas, the local police station will have an Allodapon or Foreigner division, where applications are processed.

If you are uncertain of the location, the mayor’s office or city hall in your prefecture should be able to direct you to the correct address. KEP Citizen Service Centres are often not knowledgeable about non-EU issues, though you are free to inquire by calling ‘1500.’

Staff will often only speak Greek. A Greek-speaking friend, relative or associate may be necessary; a lawyer or attorney is not.

Documents and fees

You need:

1. Your passport or other valid travel document
— Four (4) photocopies of the main page and the original for inspection
— Latin letters are acceptable, and translations to Greek are needed for passports without Latin letters. See “Official translations to Greek” if you require assistance.
— Some applicants may be asked to provide one (1) photocopy of each passport page, although legislation was passed in 2008 that did away with this requirement.
— If you had more than one passport in the past five (5) years, you need to provide four (4) photocopies of the main page of the expired one(s).

2. A valid Greek residence/work permit
— The original for inspection and four (4) photocopies
OR
2. An unexpired bebaiosi (blue certificate with photo) that proves you renewed your permit
— The original for inspection and four (4) photocopies

3. Income tax returns for the past two (2) years
— Annual income must show at least 8,500 euros, plus 20 percent for a dependent spouse (or 1,700 euros) and 15 percent (or 1,275 euros) for each dependent child under the age of 18.
— ‘Ekkatharistiko’ issued by the Greek tax office/eforia/DOY; or a copy of your last tax filing and a dilosi issued by the tax office that you owe no outstanding debts, if no ekkatharistiko has been issued at the time of application
— The original and four (4) photocopies

4. A document (dilosi) issued and certified by the Greek tax office/eforia/DOY stating that you do not owe any unpaid taxes
— The original and three (3) photocopies

5. A document issued by your Greek social insurance fund stating that you have full medical and hospital coverage
— Usually they ask for consecutive IKA or OAEE statements, or a dilosi signed and stamped/certified by your insurance carrier — The original for inspection and three (3) photocopies of each document
— If you have OAEE, OGA, etc., you need a document (dilosi) issued by your social insurance fund stating that you do not have any outstanding insurance payments — The original and three (3) photocopies

6. Rental contract certified by the Greek tax office/eforia/DOY or the title deed of your home
— The original for inspection and four (4) photocopies
OR
6. A certified dilosi signed by the owner of the home that you reside at that address without paying rent, stamped and certified by police.

7. Type ‘A2’ certificate issued by IDEKE certifying “sufficient” knowledge of the Greek language
— Three (3) photocopies and the original
— This requires successful completion of 150 hours of free Greek language classes administered by the education ministry’s General Secretariat of Adult Education (IDEKE) or a passing grade on its test equivalent.
— For more information on where to sign up for classes or take the exam and get a certificate, see “Free Greek language lessons.”
OR
7. Completion of at least three (3) years of secondary school education in Greece
OR
7. Certificate/diploma from any high school in Greece.
— Four (4) photocopies, plus original for inspection

8. Type A2 certificate issued by IDEKE of “sufficient” knowledge of Greek history and culture
— Three (3) photocopies and the original
— This requires successful completion of 25 hours of free Greek history/culture classes administered by the education ministry’s General Secretariat of Adult Education (IDEKE). See “Free Greek language lessons” to learn how and where to sign up.

9. Four color passport-size photographs
— Government sources say three (3), but it’s always been four at offices I’ve applied

10. Certified receipt (παράβολο/parabolo) for the non-refundable fee of 600 euros
— The original and three (3) photocopies
— Paid at the Greek tax office/eforia/DOY or Dimarxeio/Mayor’s office of your municipality (location of payment varies by municipality)

11. Application
— Provided by the municipality office, completed in Greek

12. Fakelo
— Folder with rubberbands at the corners, purchased at any office or school supplies shop; they’ll know what you mean if you use the word I provided

* Note: I always keep a photocopy of everything before giving over the folder, in case the office loses my file (which has happened 5 times in 10 years).

What happens next?

A public official will check, verify and bundle your documents in the fakelo, then issue a bebaiosi (blue paper with your photo). It is not a new or temporary residence/work permit. It is a certificate of receipt that your papers have been accepted and are being reviewed for the possibility of permit issuance.

Before a long-term EU-wide residence/work permit is issued, you must attend an interview at the regional office (perifeiria) to examine your moral character and worthiness at a specific date and time according to a certified letter sent to you within 90-120 days. You must show up.

If the interview goes well, the board will instruct authorities at the interior ministry to issue the permit sticker or card and you will notified by telephone or be required to call the municipality office or check on its status in person as to when it is ready for pickup, usually within 30 days.

Under EU law, long-term resident status will (ideally) enjoy equal treatment with EU nationals in regards to:

* Access to paid and unpaid employment, conditions of employment and working conditions.
* Education and vocational training, recognition of qualifications.
* Welfare benefits — family allowances, retirement pensions, sickness insurance.
* Social assistance — minimum income support or retirement pensions, free health care
* Social benefits — possibility of tax relief, access to goods and services; freedom of association and union membership; freedom to represent a union or association.
* Access to the entire territory of EU member states — subject to the rules and conditions of the new member state. (Note: The second member state may refuse applications for residence only where there is an actual threat to public policy, public security or public health).
* “Enhanced protection” against expulsion. This means they may only be expelled from the country if they pose a “serious threat” to public order or domestic security that impacts a fundamental societal interest. Decisions may not be based on economic considerations.

What happens if I’m denied?

If your application for a long-term EU-wide permit is denied by Greece, they will inform you of the reasons when you check on its status. If these reasons can be fixed with time or additional documents, you will be allowed to apply again.

The 600-euro fee remains under your name but is not refunded. It is said that the fee can be used to apply for a future permit without further payment, but I advise you to keep copies of the receipt and/or have a municipality employee certify a document attesting to this.

Applicants also have the right to file an appeal at the municipality, contact the Greek ombudsman to intervene, or take legal action by hiring a lawyer and filing suit.

How many non-EU citizens in Greece have this permit?

Although a majority of non-EU citizens have been in Greece for more than five years and an estimated 250,000 qualify, only one person held this permit in December 2007, less than a dozen by April 2008 and only 106 in October 2009. Why?

— Greece waited five years before implementing the EU directive, and only did so when the EU took them to the European Court of Justice
— The original application fee of 900 euros made it cost prohibitive, since the average salary in Greece is 200-300 euros less.
— Many Greek employers refuse to offer social insurance to foreigners, expecting them to work illegally or pay for their own insurance, which is costly.
— Greek language requirements have been changed at least three times since 2006, plus the certificate required for this permit could only be secured by passing a test that did not exist until mid-2009.
— Many immigrants still face obstacles in even signing up for free Greek classes because employer consent is required to sign up, classes are only offered twice a year — and during the day, which makes it impossible for employed persons to attend — and there is an annual enrollment limit of 3,000 students.

Ways to lose your long-term EU-wide permit in Greece

a) A court of justice expels you from Greece;
b) Greek police deem you a public menace or national threat;
c) you are outside the EU for 12 consecutive months or more;
d) you are in possession of a long-term residence permit from another EU country; or
e) you are outside Greece for at least six (6) years.

Renewal

Applicants must apply for renewal of the permit for another five (5) years at least 60 days before the expiration date. Many, but not all, of the same elements are necessary.

Long-term EU-wide permits of other EU nations

Please note that these are the eligibility requirements for Greece only. Other EU member states have requirements (often easier), fees and laws unique to their country.

Can I move to another EU country?

The long-term, EU-wide residence/work permit from Greece described above entitles you to live and work in another EU member state — except Denmark, Ireland and the UK — but you are subject to the rules and regulations of the new country. Your newly chosen country may allow you to swap 1:1 for another EU-wide permit or give you a long-term permanent residence permit good only for their country, thus stripping you of EU-wide status and requiring you to stay five (5) years to again achieve EU-wide status to move again.

This is why it is wise to check with the country of interest before you move.

If you do not have the special long-term EU-wide permit described in this article, you have a Greek permit good only for Greece and do not have permission or authorization to work anywhere else.

Do you have a question?

Please read the comment policy posted in “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me” before asking a question.

*The ability to ask questions is now closed due to 90 percent of people asking redundant questions and not reading the information available.

Sources

— Personal experience
— Documentation given to me by the municipality, translated from Greek to English
Προεδρικό Διάταγμα ΥΠ’ ΑΡΙΘ. 150/2006 (in Greek)
Εγκύκλιος 47/2006 (in Greek)

Published November 2010 after my article:
Long-term resident status for third country citizens in Greece (Inaccurate; for comparison purposes only)

I do not source anything from official websites because they reflect policies, not reality.

Related posts

FAQ: Greek residence and work permits
I’m a non-EU citizen in Greece, can I travel whenever I wish?
How non-EU citizens can get a permit to move, live and work in Greece

Possible change in law
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=478073

85 Comments

  Jennifer wrote @ April 11th, 2008 at 21:24

Hi there,
I’m trying to access a post about non-EU spouses of EU citizens applying for an EU-wide residency permit, but apparently I need a password to do so. Is there some place where I can sign up and access the post? I’m really curious about how to go about this. We live on Hydra, but we’ll be getting married in the States in a few weeks, and I’m hoping to get all of the paperwork submitted and returned before I return to Greece.
Thanks!
Jen

Kat Reply:

The spouse permit is not EU-wide — it says this clearly in the first two paragraphs. It is only for Greece and one of the easiest pieces of bureaucracy to complete.

Second, the EU-wide permit only applies to non-EU citizens (not married to EU citizens) who have been working in Greece for 5 years with a permit and meet a number of other requirements detailed above.

Last, the answer for password-protected posts can be found in “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me.”

  adriatik wrote @ May 1st, 2008 at 21:20

Hi , I just wanted to know that IF i have work permit and been leaving in greece over ten years do i have a chance to get a greek passport ? thanks

Kat Reply:

Answers to your questions are already on this website. They are:

a) No.
b) You can only get a Greek passport if you have Greek citizenship. You can only get Greek citizenship if you have lived here for 10 of the last 12 years (so you have 2 more years to go) and go through the complicated/expensive naturalization process. You could have found the answer to your question very easily by doing a “Search” or looked at “Categories” in the 2nd column. Articles for “Greek passport” and “Greek citizenship by naturalization” are there.

All best.

  Red wrote @ May 22nd, 2008 at 13:25

Will having a greek residence permit / work permit allow me to work in other EU countries? If not, how can a non-EU spouse of a greek citizen obtain a greek passport?

Kat Reply:

Answers:

a) No.
b) Same answer I gave to both the commentators above you. I’ve provided all the answers for you in this article and the article linked/listed in the first paragraph; all you need to do is take a look. Thank you.

  elisabeta wrote @ December 2nd, 2008 at 22:59

hello i am albanian and for the last 12 years i have been living in greece.

i went to greek school,i had a working permit and from june i applied for a 5-year working permit but i didnt recieve it yet. i m in france rightnow attending a french university. the documents that i have here is student permit not working one.

can i transfer my rights from greece to france?can i work with the greek papers in france?

thank you

Kat Reply:

Depends. If the five-year working permit was the special long-term EU-wide permit costing 900 euros, then yes you can live/work in France. However, if it was any other kind of Greek permit, then the answer is ‘no.’ There’s no such thing as transferring rights, unless you have the special long-term EU-wide permit because rules in Greece are different from rules in another EU country; the EU is not one country with one set of rules. Further, you cannot do anything until you receive the real permit.

  Matt wrote @ March 17th, 2010 at 19:31

Just a quick one to say I think you have managed to compile the best, and most accurate information about the joys of living and working in Greece I have managed to read in my 11 years of living here as a Non-EU citizen.

Well Done…

Looking to get the EU wide permit if I can find the time to go back to school for 150 hours!!

Kat Reply:

Hi Matt, thank you so much for your kind words! It means a lot since it sounds like you and I have been here the same number of years, so we know how bad the “official” sources are and how hard it can be without some guidance or language skills (at the beginning). Yes, 150 hours!

  Leo wrote @ October 6th, 2010 at 22:49

Hi All,

Thanks for great and useful informations. I have learned recently that there are some new changes introduced with a related law. A child of non EU parents born in Greece, is automatically eligible for a permanent residence permit (and some differences in acquiring citizenship), permanent as a lifelong? If anyone knows more details on this I would be grateful for any information.

Thanks, keep up the good work, Kat

Kat Reply:

Hi Leo,

After translating the new 52-page Greek Citizenship Code, all existing articles have been updated but new articles are still in the process of being created. You can start with, “Ways to acquire Greek citizenship.”

Everyone should keep in mind that I run this website, update its 350 articles, curate the Twitter news feed, quash plagiarism and dispense advice in my unpaid free time when not at my full-time job and tending to my own life. I ask readers to be patient, or please offer me a helping hand.

Thank you for your encouragement and for stopping by. It’s 2 am, and I must go to sleep before my head explodes. All best.

  michael wrote @ November 25th, 2010 at 16:12

hey i have a permanent residency here in greece, am a non eu. my permanent residency is going to expire in one month, i was planning to go to sweden for holidays, is it possible?

Kat Reply:

Question is already answered above. As it says under “Renewal,” you are obligated to start renewing your permit in Greece up to 60 days prior to expiration.

You’re free to leave and come back before the permit expires. But you’ll be fined if you renew late or fail to turn in all papers before the expiration date as explained in “FAQ: Greek work and/or residence permits.”

  jay wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 17:45

hi,

i have greek permanent residence permit can i stay long in spain or can i swap Spanish one

Kat Reply:

If you have the special EU-wide long-term residence permit for Greece, you can swap for the same permit in Spain or another they denote as the equivalent, which may not be EU-wide.

If you do not have the special EU-wide permit issued by Greece, you must start from nothing to earn a permit in Spain.

In either case, you should consult Spanish authorities before leaving because not following their rules/laws can endanger your status and may leave you with no permit if you accidentally do something wrong.

  VJ wrote @ March 27th, 2011 at 17:53

re: Spain…

as far as I am aware they do swap EU-wide residence permit (issued for other EU country)… but not to similar “EU-wide residence permit” … they swap to “Spanish permanent residence”

Basically you end up demoting yourself from “EU-wide permit” to “Spanish permanent one”..

check http://extranjeros.mtin.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/Ciudadanosnocomunitarios/resilargaduracion.html
=> “Residencia de larga duración”

Kat Reply:

Hi VJ,

Thanks so much for the link, which confirms my previous answer about the Greek permit being swappable for the same or another deemed equivalent by Spanish authorities. Laws change often, and I do not intend on becoming an expert on all 27 member states.

My impression is the commentator above did not have the EU-wide permit and thought he could just move to another EU member state with any Greek residence permit, and that isn’t true.

  harry wrote @ June 27th, 2011 at 15:11

hi, please tell me how a permanent residence sticker holder in greece can work in other eu country. thanks

Kat Reply:

In order to leave Greece and work in another EU country, you must:

a) have the special EU-wide permit described above; or
b) qualify from nothing in the new EU country of your choice; or
c) qualify as the spouse/child of an EU/EEA citizen according to the rules set out by each country.

All countries have different laws, so you need to do research if that applies.

  phillip wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 21:21

Hi Kat,

I wanted to add something to this post that might be of importance regarding #7 and #8 under the ‘How to Apply–you need:” section.

I possess the IDEKE certificate for Greek language lessons, for the 150 hours of A2 Greek language, and the 25 hours of Greek history and culture. They told me today (01/08/11) at the Kentro Exipiretisis Allodapon, where I go for my permit, that they need the certificate from the Greek exam for A2. The IDEKE certificates don’t take the place of the certificate for the A2 Greek exam (exetaseis pistopiisis tis ellinikis glossas). My teacher in the class had also told me that, so I was expecting to hear it today.

Anyway, just thought I’d mention that. I possess all the other documents, which are the same as your other listings, and they’re all fine. I’m going to the Minitry of the Interior tomorrow to see if there’s any additional information on this subject. I can let you know what I find out.

Phillip

  zafar wrote @ September 2nd, 2011 at 15:13

Dear sir
If I have permanent residence here in Greece and I want to take special long term residence EU-wide, do I need also school certificate and is the same process to apply? Please give me information on how can I apply and what document do I need?

Kat Reply:

It appears you didn’t read the article.

If you have permanent residence through marriage to a Greek/EU citizen, you are not eligible for the EU-wide permit. It says this in the first sentence.

If you were eligible, the article lists all the documents you need and how to apply.

  Khalil wrote @ September 13th, 2011 at 13:16

I come from Jordan and I am a holder of a permanent residency permit in Greece since 2009. In May 2010 I relocated to Cyprus as my wife is cypriot citizen and since then I didn’t visit Greece again.

Did I lose my long-term EU permit in Greece?

You mentioned above that in order to loose the long-term EU permit in Greece, someone should be outside the EU for 12 consecutive months or more and Cyprus is an EU country, so my permit didnot expire yet. is that right?

Kat Reply:

Non-EU spouses of Greek/EU citizens are not eligible for the EU-wide permit in Greece described above, as I say in the first sentence. Therefore, you do not have this permit and info in the article doesn’t apply to you.

Do you have a regular five-year residence permit/card or the permanent 10-year residence permit/card issued by Greece? Only after receiving this information can I give you an answer.

Sorry, comments are closed at this time.